Satellite radio in many ways offers what some of the best college stations do by providing niche programming in a variety of genres, including new independent music. I haven't listened much to XM Radio's college radio-themed station XMU and when I have it struck me that it was a mainstream version of college radio, perhaps mirroring the CMJ "tops" list.
When I first heard that college stations were "taking over" XMU on select days I was thrilled, thinking what a great idea it was to have a satellite station broadcast from various college radio stations from around the country. Well--that idea is kind of radical, so it's not exactly what they are doing. On the weekly Student Exchange Program, XMU features pre-selected programming from a rotating list of specific college radio stations. The show began in April 2007 with selections from Emerson College's WERS in Boston and has also featured stations from Oberlin College, Berkeley, and Georgia Tech. It certainly has the potential to highlight interesting college stations from all over the country. This Sunday, February 3rd from 4 to 6pm Eastern Time the show features KSLU from St. Louis University and airs on XM Radio channel 43 and on DirecTV channel 831. One can also listen online for free if you sign up for a free trial of streaming on XM's website.
XMU does work with/provide guidelines to the college stations to help shape their playlists as this blog post from one of the featured stations WOBC (Oberlin College) points out: "...we send XMU a playlist that best represents WOBC's sound. This is a difficult task considering we have an incredibly diverse line-up, but XMU helps to narrow down the options. They want more 'mainstream indie' pop and consider Kate Bush branching out. Of course WOBC is always bending the rules. The last show in June consisted of some 80s hip-hop, a few Oberlin bands, noise/freeform, bands like Can, the knife and more..."
Aha! So, I was right...XMU is a blander form of college radio!
If any of you work at a station that has programmed for XMU, I'd love to see your playlist and learn more about the process you went through to be included on XMU and how you came up with the music for the show.
Here's a list of the stations who seem to have appeared (it began as a monthly program, but is now weekly). I couldn't find an archive listing all the stations that have appeared, and surprisingly, not many of the stations even mention XMU appearances on their websites.
April 2007: WERS (Emerson College, Boston, MA)
May 2007: KALX
June 2007: WOBC (Oberlin College, OH)
July 2007: WERS again
August 2007: KALX again
September 2007: WREK (Georgia Tech, Atlanta)
October 2007: WERS again?
11/11/2007: WOBC (2nd time)
11/18/2007: WRAS (Georgia State, Atlanta, GA)
?11/25/2007: KPSU (Portland State, Portland, OR)
?12/2/2007: KCSU (Colorado State, Fort Collins, CO)
?12/16/07: WONY (Oneonta, NY)
?12/23/2007: KALX (Berkeley, CA)
2/3/2008: KSLU (St. Louis University, Missouri)
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